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Evolution of the Online Conversation



Scoble’s 2007 Version

In 2007, Robert Scoble published the “Social Media Starfish” as pictured below (created by Scoble and Darren Barefoot). The premise is that all forms of social media are connected and I couldn’t agree more. Imagine you use Twitter to microblog and broadcast yourself, you use Flickr to post your photography that you share with your online friends and you are an avid blogger. They all are interconnected- some of your blog audience is your Twitter audience and some of your Twitter audience is your Flickr audience and so on and so forth.

Solis’ 2008 Version

While Scoble’s graph was sufficient for the time, social media has grown exponentially not only in options for applications but in actual users, rendering the “Social Media Starfish” lacking. This year, Brian Solis published “The Conversation Prism” that shows how social media has evolved (co-created with JESS3). What’s most intriguing to me is that Solis has captured the science of the social media movement of these applications overlapping, not just connecting.

click here for the enlarged version

Solis notes “conversations are taking place with or without you and this map will help you visualize the potential extent and pervasiveness of the online conversations that can impact and influence your business and brand.”

The takeaway of Solis’ Conversation Prism is that “in the social economy, relationships are the new currency.” We’ve been saying this for a while but Solis sums it up so concisely and eloquently. Kudos to Brian Solis for leading the evolution.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Chris de Jong

    August 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Fantastic post Lani! It is amazing to see the evolution of social media from one year to the next. Especially the emphasis that is put on Twitter – I guess it really is the next killer app!

    My RE take away from this would be that in order to capitalize on social media, real-estate professionals should try to position themselves at the center of this conversation, so they can take advantage of the discussions and turn them into business.

  2. Todd

    August 13, 2008 at 10:06 am

    “…Imagine you use Twitter to microblog and broadcast yourself, you use Flickr to post your photography that you share with your online friends and you are an avid blogger. They all are interconnected- some of your blog audience is your Twitter audience and some of your Twitter audience is your Flickr audience and so on and so forth.”

    FYI – The above is not only a good way to build up relationship currency, but it just so happens to be the the rumored way Google’s bots and crawlers assign ranking order displayed in a keyword search. “Relationship currency” and SEO are two sides of the same coin. 😉

  3. Joseph Bridges

    August 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    These tools, some new and some older, allow everyone to connect and build a better network. I don’t believe that “in the social economy, relationships are the new currency”. Relationships have always been currency and have always been valuable. These tools just allow everyone to have a greater reach and have more relationships. The core that relationships which lead to referrals and other opportunities hasn’t changed just the medium in which we connect with them.

  4. James Bridges

    August 13, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    I think this helps show a great picture of social networking. I will say though looking at it I get an additional interpretation.
    Seeing as “The Conversion” is at the center it demonstrates that the value you aim to achieve is a combination of different forms of networking meeting to the point of value. Since each one overlaps, not intersects, it shows that participating in different networks will allow you to reach your conversion point (in real estate a referral or preferrably a sale 🙂 ).

  5. Sherry Baker

    August 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    What’s really amazing to me is that there are agents walking around who don’t have a CLUE about any of this… and when it’s presented to them, they just don’t care about it.

  6. Eric Blackwell

    August 13, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I think the key to unlocking the potential of what you have brilliantly pointed out, Lani…is prioritizing which conversation places will yield the best conversations that will yield the best relationships between you and your customer.



  7. Vicki Moore

    August 13, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    And it’s a pretty flower too. Seriously seeing the visual enforces what I already knew – there are a ton of them and deciding where to put my time is going to become more and more crucial. Thank goodness many of them are linked and populate updates. All this in just a year.

    Sherry – If I wasn’t here I wouldn’t either. It invaluable to have it deciphered, thought out and presented by an expert in social media.

  8. Ruthmarie Hicks

    August 14, 2008 at 3:27 am

    This is totally overwhelming….At some point we have to tear ourselves away from the computer long enough to come out of our caves and be in the “real world.” Balance is key!

  9. Paula Henry

    August 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    The growth is Amazing! Seeing it in this format and now I know why I can’t keep up:( I need a social media assistant – yes, that’s the key – someone just like me.

  10. Matthew Rathbun

    August 16, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Whew… that makes me tired just looking at it. This is why I am glad to be with AG, Twitter, etc… I can find out what’s worth working on and what isn’t….

    Ruthemarie: I’ve got to tell you that I used to feel that way, but social media has made the world smaller and it’s becoming the real world. The folks that I meet through this system, I meet in person and talk to on the phone just as I do my church or my close friends. Matter of fact… I’ve introduced my friends, family and church folks to these systems which have REALLY enhanced all those relationships.

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Social Media

Instagram teases “take a break” feature: Is it true or another PR stunt?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) In an attempt to rectify their reputation, Instagram teases the newest safety feature – “take a break” – to nudge teens from harmful content.



Upside down photo of man holding iphone case saying "social media seriously harms your mental health."

The knowledge that social media – especially in excess – can be harsh on mental health is not something learned from the recent Facebook whistleblower; we’ve known for a long time and so has Facebook and Instagram.

And now to pretend that they care about such harshness, Instagram has introduced a “take a break” feature (I’m both rolling my eyes and singing the “Hamilton” song of the same name). The announcement of the feature came from Facebook’s vice president, Nick Clegg, during a CNN address a week after the whistleblower drama came to the forefront. Clegg said,

“We’re going to introduce something which I think will make a considerable difference, which is where our systems see that a teenager is looking at the same content over and over again, and it’s content which may not be conducive to their well being, we will nudge them to look at other content” 

Instagram app on Apple app store.

He said the social media company plans to introduce a feature “called ‘take a break,’ where we will be prompting teens to just simply take a break from using Instagram.” This is in addition to pausing plans for an Instagram Kids platform and giving parents optional controls to supervise teens.

There is currently no information available on a timeline, which may further the point that this is just a PR tactic to deflect from the issue at hand – that they had data proving the harms of social media and chose to bury the information. Last month, Instagram posted a blog about the Instagram Kids pause and information on children and teens using the internet.

It could be argued that the “nudge to look at other content” is simply another in a series of distractions that somehow keeps people using social media in copious amounts. The fact that there is hardly any information on the feature is suspicious and hardly a bandage for a bullet wound.

If it even ever comes to fruition, it will likely be one of Facebook’s many trials and errors. Based on last year’s documentary shocker “The Social Dilemma,” it is clear that social media users are simply dollar signs in the eyes of those at the top.

Instagram mobile login page.

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Social Media

Why Trump’s lawsuit against social media still matters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Former President Trump snagged headlines for suing every large social media platform, and it has gone quiet, but it still deeply matters.



trump sues social media

It was splashed across headlines everywhere in July: Former President Trump filed a lawsuit against social media platforms that he claims unrightfully banned him during and after the fallout of the January 6th capitol riots. The headlines ran for about a week or so and then fell off the radar as other, fresher, just-as-juicy news headlines captured the media’s eye.

Many of us were left wondering what that was all about and if anything ever became of it. For even more of us, it probably passed out of our minds completely. Lack of public awareness for these things is common after the initial media blitz fades.

Lawsuits like these in the US can take months, if not years between newsworthy milestones. The most recent news I could find as of this publishing is from August 24, 2021, on Yahoo! News from the Washington Examiner discussing the Trump camp’s request for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.

This particular suit shouldn’t be left to fade from memory in the shadows though, and here’s why:

In the past few years, world powers have been reigning in regulations on social media and internet commerce. The US is actually a little behind the curve. Trump may have unwittingly given us a source of momentum to get with the times.

In the European Union, they have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely acknowledged to be one of the toughest and most thorough privacy laws in the world, a bold title. China just passed its own pair of laws in the past four months: The Data Security Law, which took effect on Sept. 1, and The Personal Information Law, set to take effect November 1st. The pair is poised to give the GDPR a run for its money for that title.

Meanwhile, in the US, Congress has been occupied with other things and, while there are five bills that took aim at tech monopoly currently on the table and a few CEOs had to answer some questions, little actual movement or progress has been made on making similar privacy protections a thing in the United States.

Trump’s lawsuit, while labeled by many as a toothless public relations move, may actually create momentum needed to push regulation of tech and social media forward in the US. The merits of the case are weak and ultimately the legislation that would give it teeth doesn’t exist yet.

You can’t hold tech companies accountable to a standard that doesn’t properly exist in law.

However, high profile attention and someone willing to continue to make noise and bring attention back to the subject, one of Trump’s strongest talents, could be “just what the doctor ordered” to inspire Congress to make internet user rights and data privacy a priority in the US, finally.

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Social Media

Even solopreneurs are doing live commerce online – it’s not just QVC’s game anymore

(SOCIAL MEDIA) When you think of watching a show and buying things in real time, it invokes thoughts of QVC, but social media video has changed all that.



live commerce

After the year everyone has had, one wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that humanity wants a break from live streaming. They would, however, be wrong: Live online commerce – a method of conversion first normalized in China – is the next evolution of the ubiquitous e-commerce experience, which means it’s something you’ll want on your radar.

Chinese company, Alibaba first live streamed on an e-commerce site in 2016, allowing buyers to watch, interact with, and buy from sellers from the comfort of their homes. In 2020, that same strategy netted Alibaba $7.5 billion in presale revenue – and it only took 30 minutes, according to McKinsey Digital.

But, though western audiences have proven a desire to be just as involved with sellers during the buying process, live commerce hasn’t taken off here the way it has elsewhere. If e-commerce merchants want to maximize their returns in the next few years, that needs to change.

McKinsey Digital points out a couple of different benefits for organizations using live commerce, the main one being an influx in traffic. Live streaming events break the buying experience mold, and consumers love being surprised. You can expect that prospective buyers who wouldn’t necessarily visit your store under normal circumstances would find value in attending a live event.

Live events also keep people on your site for longer, resulting in richer conversion opportunities.

The sense of urgency inherent in in-person shopping doesn’t always translate to online markets, but having a stream showing decreasing inventory or limited-availability items being sold inspires people to act expeditiously rather than sitting on a loaded cart–something that can kill an e-commerce conversion as quickly as it starts one.

There are a ton of different ways to incorporate live events into your e-commerce campaigns. Virtual auctions are popular, as are markets in which individual sellers take buyers through inventory. However, the live event could be tangentially related–or even just something impressive running in parallel with the sale–and still bring in a swell of revenue.

Screen fatigue is real, and there isn’t a true substitute for a brick-and-mortar experience when done correctly. But if you have an e-commerce shop that isn’t utilizing some form of live entertainment–even just to bring in new buyers–you’re going to want to try this strategy soon.

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